Best of 2012! The Lusty Vegan: How Do Food Politics Affect Our Love Lives?

Veggie sausage. Get it? GET IT?!


“If you ever go vegan, I’ll break up with you,” said an ex boyfriend, in all seriousness. We had been dating for about 6 or 7 months, and the “food thing” was causing some serious issues. I had already been vegetarian for a 6 or 7 years, and was flirting with veganism. While I was still doing a bit of dairy here and there–mainly Greek yogurt. Couldn’t get off the stuff–what I was most focused on was how healthy my food was. And my ex, who we will call Bobby, would only eat three things: Nachos, tuna fish salad, and bacon. Basically, I was dating a toddler. Whereas I was picky when it comes to the purity of my food, he was just picky. And we couldn’t eat together.

We couldn’t go out to eat together, we couldn’t cook together, and when I stayed at his house I would find myself rummaging in the cupboards, emerging with a 3 year old can of black olives that I would dig into with a fork. And I’m sure he hated staying at my place, where I would wake up and shove kale into my blender excitedly. It was rough. And did I mention he threatened to break up with me if I ditched dairy? Yeah, not the best match, really.

Just for a moment, let’s put the ethics of veganism aside and focus on the food. Food is important. Not only does it nourish our body, but we spend hours every day with food. Buying it, preparing it, eating it. And for the foodies, well there is all that time thinking about it, daydreaming about it, lusting over it, photographing it, lusting over the photos…

So to think that differences in palates, preferences and diet won’t have any impact on a relationship is naive. If you share your passion for food, and enjoy the same edibles, well food can create a deep bond. Both of my parents worked in the food industry (my mother, a chef at a swanky Connecticut country club; my father, the dining room manager at another equally swankable club) and their love for the industry and good food certainly brought them together, or at least gave them a common ground to stomp around in the early throes of their romance.

And if you have different food preferences? While it may not kill the relationship, it can certainly give you a few hurdles to jump over. And we’re not all Sally Pearson. An article on vegan dating published Wednesday on BBC discussed vegans looking for love, and how it can be difficult for them to find it. One vegan interviewed said “I did break up with someone over cheese.” While the article is a bit silly at points (it includes a photo of a trailer with the heading “These days vegans are less likely to be loners living in caravans”) it did bring up some good questions regarding food politics and dating.

While veganism certainly isn’t new, it has become more popular recently, or at least gained more press. And so topics like vegan dating are getting more attention. And there are a lot of questions left unanswered. Could a little mozzarella mozzaruin your relationship? How often does this happen? How many vegans refuse to “settle” for an omnivorous partner? Are vegan women more likely to date an omni man than vise versa? If so, why? Do we think we can “convert” them? Is this our super secret plan of activist attack? Convert by seduction? How fun…

Now normally I never ask anything of you. I just rant about sex and food and dating and veganism and hope maybe you want to procrastinate at work by reading about the best vegan sex toys or how masturbation could better the planet. But I’ve come up with a few questions to dig deeper into the politics of vegan dating. If you have a few moments, please take a look at it—it’s completely anonymous. I know surveys are really obnoxious, but it’s only 10 ANONYMOUS questions and will take you two minutes. Because it’s anonymous, I can’t thank you personally, but it will give you good dating and sex karma. I promise. Sort of. Take it here, please and thank you!

Also feel free to leave comments about your dating experiences below! I am nosy.

The Lusty Vegan is a lifestyle and sex column focusing on living and loving as a twenty-something year old vegan. More rants from Zoe Eisenberg can be found at www.sexytofu.com. Follow her on Twitter @Sexytofublog

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9 Responses to Best of 2012! The Lusty Vegan: How Do Food Politics Affect Our Love Lives?

  1. Pingback: The Lusty Vegan: How Do Food Politics Affect Our Love Lives? | CookingPlanet

  2. Alex says:

    I fell in love the first night Brandon spent the night at my house. He was excited over my kombucha, green smoothie and opted for the cashew cheese when we went on
    Our nacho making shopping trip together. These food opts totally sealed the deal in my mind. It was definitely on my list in things I want in a man (ontop of liking mike Patton).

  3. Nic says:

    I’ve been with my now-husband for 9-1/2 years, married for 3. I went vegetarian 8 months ago; vegan about 5 months ago. He’s omni. Now that I have allowed myself to learn (in depth) about what happens to farmed animals, I am sickened by it and becoming a passionate activist to work to be a voice for the animals.

    My husband told me last week (while we were out to dinner…I was wearing my new “Life is Better Vegan” t-shirt) that he does not plan to ever go vegan; he thinks getting most of his meat from the farmer’s market is noble enough and that, well, “nature is cruel”. I cried myself to sleep that night thinking that I just can’t be married to someone who thinks that cruelty is just an inevitable part of life. I think that when we have the choice to show compassion, we should. Now that it’s shown inconclusively that we don’t need animal protein to live (and in fact are better off without it), I think we humans who have access to grocery stores and farmer’s markets with fresh veggies, fruit, legumes, nuts and grains should choose that non-violent path.

    I had hoped that once he had all of the same information that I have read and watched, he would logically come to the same conclusion. I just can’t imagine being married to someone who doesn’t share this value of compassion towards animals, just as I can’t imagine being married to someone with the opposite political beliefs or religious beliefs. I am friends with people of all beliefs, but I want the person I share my home and my life with to be on the same page as me on these very important ways. Props to those of you who exist peacefully in relationships where these things differ, but this current dynamic in my relationship is making me depressed. His choice to eat animals is not a choice like what art to hang on the wall or what movie to watch. The decision of whether or not to eat animals directly contributes to the suffering and death of animals – no matter where you’re buying your animal products from.

    So for now while I continue to work through my feelings on this I’m trying to focus on the things that are positive in our relationship, while looking for delicious recipes that will make him happy. Like you have previously written – the more good veg food I make, the less room in his stomach for animals! We’ll see where this goes and whether I decide that everything else we have outweighs this huge moral issue, or visa versa…

    • Cheryl says:

      Nic, I completely respect your feelings on this complicated issue and I truly hope that you and your husband are able to work things out.

      My feelings towards my husband are very similiar. I’ve been a vegetarian for 4 1/2 years and have been living a 95% vegan lifestyle for about the past year, (but do still occasionally dable in dairy.) For a long time, I thought I was really making strides toward converting my whole family. My son has been a vegan for 3 years, vegetarian for as long as I have, my daughter was pescatarian for a while, but has returned to her omni ways (she was older, 22 now, but I’m not giving up) and my husband has been supportives since the day I announced I can no longer eat animals. I really thought I would one day reach him on why this is issue is so important to me and horrible to continue but lately I feel like I’m losing ground. I see his ATM activity at Chik-fil-A has increased recently and he’s been buying more meat, something I haven’t bought or cooked as long as I’ve lived this lifestyle. It depresses me, I really thought I was getting through, but I don’t think so anymore. We’ve been married 17 years, together 23, so we will remain together but I will continue to work toward him becoming more compassionate and healthy through cooking delicious meals as often as possible, and try packing his lunch as much as possible so he doesn’t want to put his money towards those horrible “cruelty” places.

      If you can, try volunteering with animal activist organizations or at a farm sanctuary for rescued animals and get him to go along with you. (I occasionally volunteer with Compassion Over Killing, a small organization which hands out literature and sets up tables at public events to educate the public on the realities of factory farming, slaughterhouses, the benefits of a plant based lifestyle, etc.) This may have more of an affect then preaching, whining or threatening ultimatums. (Not that you do any of those things, but I know at times I am tempted, then realize it would only be counter-productive.)

      If I ever find myself single again for whatever reason, I would only date within the vegan/vegetarian community. These values I have are too integrally a part of who I am now, and they mean everything to me. I could never be romantically involved with someone who eats animals, as it represents everything I am against, but that’s not to say I’ll quit trying to convert them! And if I did, perhaps something could blossom then!

      Best of luck to you and your relationship. I hope for the sake of all animals and your husband’s health, you will one day successfully convert him.

      Cheryl

    • Love your take Nic, and I am sorry that you and your hubby are having issues right now. While he is right, nature is cruel, factory farming and the way animals are treated in our country (and others) has nothing to do with nature…Wishing you luck, keep us posted.

  4. SheDevil says:

    I haven’t actually had a relationship since I became vegan, though food choices did affect my ability to conceive of a relationship with a certain young man.

    I always ate a lot of vegetable and flat out vegetarian dishes, even back then – the Christmas meal would be whatever roast and about ten different veggie options, and I had been making vegetarian shepherds pie for years. This fellow and I went out for dinner and he picked out all his vegetables, while also performing the service of eating the excess meat from my plate. I knew it couldn’t work, because he thought of vegetables as compost, and they formed the majority of my diet. I couldn’t imagine a relationship where meals would not be important, and I was not willing to change the way I ate.

    My ex came from a heavy-on-the-meat family, but he didn’t care if a meal didn’t include it, so we’d often have large salads and vegetarian dishes. He’d have been an ideal companion for a vegan, because I can see him being open to it. I’d forgotten that not everyone ate that way.

    So, yes, even before the whole eating meat thing became an ethical issue for me, it had an affect on a relationship for me. On the other hand, I am not sure how it would work for me now. I think as long as the person was open to eating the way I do, and meat wasn’t a huge part of his life and diet, we might have a starting point. Back home in Toronto I could afford to be pickier, since there were a lot of vegans there, down here in Savannah, where I am staying for a while, I’m not sure how many vegan men I will meet, with a lot of the other same interests and beliefs.

    • I like how you added “with a lot of the other same interests and beliefs,” to the very end of that. That’s so important, too. Just because you meet someone who is vegan doesn’t necessarily ensure you will have things in common–though it would provide a nice starting point and make food issues easier.

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